MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The United States and Mexico on Thursday agreed to work on making shared supply chains more competitive and invest in social programs to tackle migration, according to a joint statement released by Mexico after high-level economic talks.
The so-called High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) was held for the first time in several years and the two sides also signaled they need greater cooperation to combat challenges of climate change and workers' rights.
The two countries will create a bilateral working group on supply chains, Mexico's government said in the statement.
The working group will aim to increase the resilience of cross border trade and manufacturing in the face of disruption as well as to attract production lines from other parts of the world, the statement said.
"This dialog drives improved job creation, global competitiveness and reductions in poverty and inequalities, and that is to the benefit of US citizens and Mexican citizens alike," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
The United States agreed to give technical support including collaborating with Mexico on tree-planting and student projects in Central America aimed at offering alternatives to migration, the statement said.
Vice President Kamala Harris earlier noted much has happened since the last high-level economic talks, which former President Donald Trump ditched after he accused Mexico of sending criminals over the border.
She said COVID has undermined the global economy while climate change and cyberattacks have threatened supply chains, requiring a unified response between the two countries.
The talks in Washington came as the two sides seek to find solutions to a number of controversial issues, including automotive rules requiring certain amounts of parts to be sourced in North America and the court-ordered resumption of the "Stay in Mexico" program, which sends asylum seekers outside the United States while their cases are processed.
"We have made clear that they can raise any issue of concern and that we would raise issues of concern," a senior U.S. administration official said in a briefing with reporters on Wednesday.
The two countries share a 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border and a commercial relationship that generates more than half a trillion dollars in annual bilateral trade, supporting millions of jobs in both countries.
Mexico and the United States have agreed on four pillars of focus for the high-level talks, and will approve an agenda on Thursday.
The first pillar is "building back together," including a more resilient supply chain and modernizing the U.S.-Mexico border. The second is sustainable economic and social development in southern Mexico and Central America, a key policy aimed at tackling the economic causes that drive immigration to the United States.
The final two pillars deal with cybersecurity and workforce development, among other things.
Mexico's delegation includes Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier. For the United States, the talks will be led by Harris. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others were in attendance.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, Sharay Angulo, Anthony Esposito and Cassandra Garrison in Mexico City and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons, Dan Grebler and Sandra Maler)